Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) protection allows companies to generate a return on research and development investment. IP protection can, however, restrict established practices such as further breeding by other actors and on-farm seed saving. Because national IP regulations differ and many emerging economies still lack IP laws, this measurement area seeks to clarify and assess the positions of companies regarding IP, including patents, how companies provide access to their products in countries where regulations are still under development. It also reviews how companies regard farm-saved seed practices.

To ensure that IP protection does not affect affordability, companies can apply differentiated pricing or market segmentation strategies when setting the price of products for smallholder farmers in index countries.

Tailored or royalty-free licensing strategies can improve access to patented varieties, traits, methods and technologies for national agricultural research institutes and private plant breeders, thereby promoting the development of new varieties appropriate to the needs of smallholder farmers.

Breeders’ exemption and farmers’ privilege
The long-established breeders’ exemption makes commercial varieties available for further breeding, while the farmers’ rights allows on-farm seed saving and exchange. This access can be restricted, for instance through the use of contractual clauses and patents not just on plant varieties but also on traits, methods and technologies.

C.I Commitment
C.I.1 Policy on IP protection

The company has a policy statement in place that clarifies how it handles intellectual property (IP) rights in index countries, including its position regarding farm-saved seeds and the use of its commercial varieties for further breeding.

C.II Performance
C.II.1 Pricing strategies

When marketing IP-protected products in index countries, either directly or indirectly, the company applies market segmentation and differential pricing strategies to ensure affordability for smallholder farmers.

C.II.2 Licensing

The company offers royalty-free licensing and/or lower price licensing of protected material for use in index countries.

C.II.3 Breeders’ exemption

The company allows the use of commercial varieties for further breeding and refrains from using restrictive measures such as contractual clauses in index countries.

C.II.4 Farmers’ privilege

The company allows the saving, use, exchange and sale of farm-saved seeds by smallholder farmers and refrains from employing restrictive measures such as contractual clauses in index countries.

C.III Transparency
C.III.1 Transparency in IP

The company reports publicly on its policies, practices and results in this area.

C.IV Leadership
C.IV.1 Leadership in IP

The company has established innovative models or leading practices in this area.